LBCC Promises Two Years Free Tuition
By Dianne Anderson
Long before AB 19 became state law allowing all full time community college students a free year of tuition, Long Beach Community College leaders had already taken the lead on their own local program to clear the path to higher education.
Lately, LBCC has upped the ante even more.
Free tuition has increased from one year to two years for students that attend the college after they graduate from high school from the Long Beach Unified School District.
“LBCC was one of the first California Community Colleges to provide students with a free first year of tuition prior to the passage of AB 19,” said LBCC President Dr. Reagan Ferragamo Romali in a statement. “Thanks to the generosity of the LBCC Foundation, we will continue to grow our Long Beach College Promise and help LBUSD students by removing the financial barriers to higher education.”
Under the extended College Promise program, students receive priority registration at LBCC, where they will experience support and counseling to transition to Cal State University, Long Beach.
Long Beach City College Trustee, Uduak Ntuk, said that qualifying Long Beach Unified School District high school graduates will now realize even greater savings at about $2,200 a year. The tuition free second year will start for students that graduate high school next spring.
College Promise has been around for about a decade, and he said the program is seeing great success. Currently, about 45% of the district high school students that go on to college attend Long Beach City College.
“We’re trying to continue to incentivize Long Beach Unified students to come to Long Beach City College, so their first and second year tuition will be free,” he said.
Only one requirement is needed to access College Promise 2.0. Students who graduate from Long Beach Unified High School must enter LBCC straight out of high school to be eligible for that second year of free tuition.
“This is just a commitment that the college has for the community, the Long Beach Unified School District is one of the most diverse districts in the state,” Ntuk said.
Initially, College Promise started with an agreement between the community, Long Beach Unified Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser, former LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley, and former Cal State University Long Beach president F. King Alexander.
LBCC offered up its “seamless ed” free year tuition, setting the foundation for collaboration among the three education institutions to get LBUSD graduates channeled into academic support, and opportunities.
Dr. Felton Williams said since the school district signed a Memorandum of Understanding with LBCC and CSULB, the local program has expanded exponentially.
Recently, the increased commitment to College Promise 2.0 includes two additional partners, the city of Long Beach and the Port of Long Beach.
The ports are also extremely valuable in terms of potential green jobs, he said. Shippers always ship goods, and the port alliance will strengthen opportunities for local participating students.
He said that ships are moving 12 months out of the year.
“When you think about the port, you’ve got a ton of economic interests in what’s going on with our ports, consider that they are all-weather ports,” said Williams, LBUSD Board of Education member.
Similar to voter-approved bond projects and construction work opportunities at Long Beach City College and Long Beach Unified School District, he said the port is also carving out more jobs for the students, and residents who live within the city.
The local port also meets state green goals. Ships cut their engines within a certain radius of the harbor, and visiting trucks are required to switch from diesel to clean-burning fuel. Trains must upgrade to cleaner burning fuel.
He said a lot is going on to improve the health and safety of the community in the city of Long Beach, and the changing business landscape will bring more jobs. Students will be prepared to compete with the help of the College Promise 2.0, and the partnership with California State University, Long Beach.
“People don‘t realize that Long Beach State is one of the key universities in California in terms of admitting students. It has become a flagship, and turns away at least 30,000 students, but they still take our kids as part of the College Promise agreement,” he said.
He said the commitment to local kids takes priority over students coming from out of the area, which is essential to advancing the goals of College Promise.
“They hold to the promise of taking our kids and our kids are showing they can move and advance well. Our kids are showing they can hold their own when they transfer to Long Beach State,” he said.
For more information, https://www.lbcc.edu/long-beach-college-promise